During Senator Lugar’s opening statement on the very first day of hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he established a three point test of the “fitness” of any nominee for a position when considering the nominee’s past record and statements.
Let me remind readers what those three essential issues, in Lugar’s mind, were:
1. Is the statement true?
2. Is the statement consistent with the policy positions of the President of the United States and Secretary of State?
3. Is there a rational expectation that the statement furthers American objectives and interests?
Senator Lugar should know that Bolton has (1) made statements that misled Congress — not only his his confirmation testimony but throughout much of his career; (2) made statements that undermined the policy positions of the President and Secretary of State as then articulated by them — including on North Korea, Syria, and Cuba; and (3) stretched to absurd levels any rational expectation that Bolton was promulgating American objectives and interests while he was engaged in ideological crusades and the manipulation of intelligence instead of remaining focused on tying down the potential nuclear and WMD proliferation threats which were his direct line responsibility.
Bolton FAILS Lugar’s tests.
In addition, Lugar has been rolled by this administration and pushed aside by the administration’s defiance of Lugar’s own evidence requests from the administration — and the subsequent letter by John Negroponte to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Committee Members needed to grovel before the Senate Intelligence Committee on any questions related to the NSA intercepts.
Lugar’s Committee is one of the great Committees of the U.S. Senate — and he is a “fair and balanced” leader — but Lugar is allowing his stature and that of the Committee to be undermined by the White House, and he would be wise to stop flakking for Bolton and for these outrageous behaviors by the administration.
Lugar should be able to answer his own question posed today in an AP story:
“Where does legitimate due diligence turn into partisanship?” asked Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Where does the desire for the truth turn into a competition over who wins and who loses?”
The turning point would normally be when there has been a credible and real effort by the administration to comply and cooperate with the Senate’s constitutionally mandated responsibilities of oversight over the Executive Branch.
The administration has failed to provide the requested and important e-mail and other related information that pertained to Bolton’s role on Syria policy statements, the NSA intercepts and redacted U.S. officials’ names, information related to the employment and consulting activities of Matthew Freedman, and other matters.
And who is this Matthew Freedman — a guy paid a six-figure annual salary as a temporary “management consultant” to Bolton who was previously a registered lobbyist and agent for Nigeria and the Marcos family? Why don’t we have a roster of any of his current private clients? If he is listed in the State Department directory of personnel as he was, and he is conducting business on behalf of American citizens — why are his private lobbying/consulting activities not disclosed?
Freedman’s clients have tended to be foreign governments, foreign firms, and foreign individuals. Are any of his current clients foreign interests?
If they are, then Bolton has demonstrated yet another monumental case of poor judgment in his last position.
Lugar knows that the Bolton file is packed with material that makes him a flawed candidate — but besides that point, his colleagues more than he are demanding that the administration fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities as a matter of principle.
Lugar should be making the very same demands.
— Steve Clemons